by Jennifer Sartell
This month’s story takes us to Kathy Bopps beautiful coop in Pulaski, VA. But before we head to Virginia, I thought I would share some interesting facts about how y’all prefer your turkey. The Community Chicken readers have spoken, and it looks as though most of you will be enjoying a brined, stuffed and roasted turkey on Thursday. While brining, for me at least, is a technique that I’ve only read about for the past few years, it seems that most of you are traditionalists when it comes to the seasonal meal. Second in popularity is the ever audacious deep fried turkey, followed by several of you who are incorporating bacon into the bird. Whether it be stuffing it with a pound of the salty smoked stuff, or weaving a bacon blanket to be draped across the whole thing, it seems like juiciness is pretty important to a lot of you. My favorite response when asked how you prefer your turkey was “to have someone else cook it for you!. Ha! I love our readers…such wit! There’s still time to share your tried and true recipes/techniques for your family’s favorite turkey. Feel free to leave a comment below, on the Community Chicken’s Facebook Page or visit us at Iron Oak Farm.
Now, in the spirit of Charlie Brown, “over the river and through the woods to Kathy’s coop we go!”
I thought Kathy’s coop was a perfect choice for this month’s story. November is a month for being thankful. Many of us are batting down the hatches and preparing our farms, homesteads and backyard flocks for winter. Anyone who has chickens can appreciate the feeling of gathering a harvest. Whether you’ve collected your first egg this year, or are anxiously awaiting for the dreaded molt to be over, chickens provide us with a bounty that we can be thankful for all year.
Kathy’s story is so appropriate for this season of thankfulness, as each element of her coop was a gift from a loved one. Kathy’s family appreciated her desire to raise chickens and presented her with gifts of the heart. Not the kind you wrap in paper, but generosity in love, time and effort to create a culmination that is now her backyard flock.
Kathy’s flock consists of three hens that were born in April 2012 Pippa, a Buff Orpington; Cordelia, a Red Star; and Vidalia, a Barred Rock. She writes that “They each have a different personality. Pippa is shy and gentle, Cordelia is the friendliest, always under my feet, and Vidalia has an “I don’t care” attitude.” They were a gift from her son when they were a month old.
Kathy raises her chickens for eggs and as pets. She confesses that they live on a farm but she doesn’t get involved with the larger animals. The chickens are her own little farm in the backyard.
The Gift of a Coop
What better present to a chicken enthusiast than a beautiful coop! I remember, as a teen waiting for the long process of our coop to be built. It was probably only a couple weeks, but it felt like an eternity to an impatient teenager.
Kathy’s husband and son bought her coop from an Amish builder in January 2012 for her birthday. She also writes that her daughter “built the run herself in May (it was my Mother’s Day present!) and added a roof over half of it in October.”
The house itself is 4′ x 5′ with four nesting boxes. The run is 7 1/2′ wide x 15′ long. The run is enclosed on all sides and the top with hardware cloth. A skirt extends six inches out from the bottom to discourage predators from digging in. (We have skunks and raccoons in the area.) My daughter said since it was in our backyard, it had to look nice, so she added pickets all around! She also installed four clear plastic roofing panels, each 2′ wide x 4′ high, on the NW corner to block the wind and just recently installed a tin roof over half the run. The half that isn’t covered has several things to perch on to get out of the mud and snow: a wooden pallet, plastic lawn chairs, logs and concrete blocks.
5 Things She Loves!
When asked what were her 5 favorite things about her coop Kathy answered:
1. It looks good in our yard. With the pickets, it duplicates the style of our house.
2. It is extremely predator proof. I don’t worry about the girls at night.
3. It’s under a tree so the girls have plenty of shade in the summer.
4. It has a clean out drawer under the perches that makes weekly cleaning fast and easy.
5. The girls are safe and happy!
2 Things She Would Have Changed
It seems that every chicken set up has room for improvement. Here’s what Kathy would have changed:
I would have asked the builder to make removable nesting boxes so they would be easier to clean, and another screened window for increased ventilation.
“It was a wonderful gift from my husband and children”
You can tell by looking at the care and detail of this coop that Kathy’s family supports her love of chickens. Just one more example of how raising these beautiful little birds can bring family, friends and communities together.